By Jennifer Hoheisel, Philosophy Professor, Camden County College
Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) cause social and communication impairments and may affect cognitive, emotional and behavioral functioning. The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that one in 110 babies are born with an ASD; that 1 percent of children in the United States between the ages of 3 and 17 have an ASD; and that one million to 1.5 million Americans are living with an ASD.
These statistics illustrate how vital it is to raise awareness of ASDs and the needs of the children, youth and adults who have them. That is why Camden County College’s Center for Civic Leadership and Responsibility has taken on the mission of educating parents, caregivers, teachers, emergency responders and other members of the public about these disorders.
The College has offered workshops on ASD topics since 2007. It will continue to do so this fall and winter with a free, four-part series on the Blackwood Campus in Gloucester Township.
I will begin the series with “A Basic Introduction to Autism Spectrum Disorders” from 6:30 to 9 p.m. October 18 in Room 210 of Madison Hall. As the parent of an autistic child and a Parents of Autistic Children Together board member, I know how crucial it is to understand the symptoms and behaviors commonly exhibited by individuals who have ASDs.
My talk will be very general, introducing ASD concepts and emphasizing the strengths and challenges of people with ASDs. It also will aim to equip teachers with “take-home” strategies to meet some of the educational needs of these students.
The series will continue November 18, when psychologist Sarah Woldoff presents “Surviving School: Bullying and What Schools Can Do” from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Civic Hall of the Connector Building. This session will examine bullying as it relates to children who have Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. It is being funded, in part, by the New Jersey Governor’s Council for Medical Research and Treatment of Autism, Special Child Health and Early Intervention Services, and offered through the generosity of The Center for Neurological and Neurodevelopmental Health.
The third session, “Educating First Responders about Autism,” will be held 4 to 6:30 p.m. December 6 in The Forum of the Connector Building. This lecture will address the difficulties that emergency responders – police officers, firefighters, paramedics and so forth – might face when a person with an ASD is involved in an emergency.
The series will conclude with “Transition from High School to Work and College for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders,” which will be presented by Peter Gerhardt of The McCarton School from 6:30 to 9 p.m. January 20 in Civic Hall of the Connector Building. This session will be geared toward high school teachers, child study team members, guidance counselors, students with ASDs and parents. It is being offered through the generosity of a grant from The Daniel Jordan Fiddle Foundation.
Because the College is an official New Jersey Professional Development Provider, state-certified teachers may earn approved professional development credit for these sessions. To register or for additional information, attendees should contact (856) 227-7200, ext. 4333, or CCLRregistrations@camdencc.edu.
For further information please contact (856) 227-7200, ext. 4333.